Words such as “hero”, “warrior” and “defender” are a part of every culture. Some become famous and are part of our collective history. Some go out every day and with very little fanfare, keep us safe, rescue us when tragedy strikes and rush into rather, than away, from all sorts of dangers.
Then, there are those on the front lines, protecting our water, the trees, the animals, the land, and a vast range of biodiversity. They’ve been doing this for thousands of years not only because this is their way of life, but because they understand their reciprocal relationship with the Earth. They are the voice for the voiceless. “They” are our Indigenous sisters and brothers.
From Standing Rock to the Amazon and every place in between, these defenders of the sacred, put their lives on the line to protect our most precious natural resources – things they do not see as “resources” but as part of their non-human family. Making up less than 5% of the world’s population, they nevertheless watch over 80% of our remaining global biodiversity – their ancestral homelands.
The very essence of their worldview is that we are each responsible for living sustainably through respectful relationship to one another as human beings and to all life. This way of living is woven through every aspect of their cultures: language, ceremony, ritual, songs, stories and the relationship they have with the living world based on reciprocity and on stewardship of rather than dominance over. The threads that connect the community allow life to continue and are intrinsically linked to the land.
Most recently, thousands of Indigenous people peacefully marched in the streets of Quito, Ecuador. Though the initial protests were about fuel subsidies, they also voiced concern over mining, oil hydroelectric dams and wood concessions in their Indigenous territories. Seven people were killed and thousands injured when tear gas, rubber bullets and water guns were used on the demonstrators.
Sacred Fire Foundation has partnered with several Ecuadorian communities and organizations over the years through our grant program, Protecting the Sacred. Many of their members left their homes and families to ensure their voice was heard. At this time, there are some, we have not heard from and we pray that they are safely on their way home.
Their voices are vital. This way of living with wisdom, purpose and connection is at the heart of the work we do.
Please join us in supporting our sisters and brothers in Ecuador, Brazil, Standing Rock and anywhere the living world is being protected by these heroes and warriors.
As Dr. Vandana Shiva said: “At a time of ecological and social collapse, business as usual is not an option. We need deeper sources of inspiration and resilience. We need to recover the Sacred. And in this, the Sacred Fire Foundation’s mission is vital to our times.”